John Karlin, Father of Touch-Tone Dialing, Dies

An obituary in the New York Times highlight’s John Karlin’s historic influence on digital dialing. Karlin died on January 28 at the age of 94.

Ed Israelski, a well-know human factors professional, was fortunate to work under Karlin at Bell Labs. Karlin designed the famous (or infamous) telephone keypad layout. He also conducted innovative research on the optimal length of the phone cord.

“He was the one who introduced the notion that behavioral sciences could answer some questions about telephone design,” Ed Israelski, an engineer who worked under Mr. Karlin at Bell Labs in the 1970s, said in a telephone interview on Wednesday.

Very interesting article on a virtually unknown man who had a huge impact on the general public.

Lots of comments and discussion on the history and pros/cons of the phone keypad design can be found on Slashdot.

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